Mark Hughes feels that a harsh refereeing decision swung Sunday’s game against Spurs away from City.
The Blues were 1-0 up when Gelson Fernandes was dismissed for a second bookable offence after 25 minutes following a clash with David Bentley. Within a few minutes, the visitors had equalised through Darren Bent, who put Harry Redknapp’s side into the lead in the second half with another clinical finish.
A spirited showing by City, including Stephen Ireland being denied by a fine save by Gomes, was not enough and afterwards Mark told us:
“Up to the sending-off, we were very much in the ascendency and comfortable with the way the game was panning out. Obviously we were disappointed with the sending-off, the first booking was valid as Gelson had slid into the back of their player so by the letter of the law, that’s a booking.
“With the second one I felt that the referee had not any stage of the game given any players the benefit of the doubt with consideration of the conditions out there. I think Bentley nipped the ball past Gelson, there was the barest of contact and I don’t think Bentley was actually in control of the ball when the slight contact was made. A lot of people paid a lot of money to see a game between two good sides today, if the referee had used a little bit of common sense and given a little bit of slack to the players, given the conditions, then it could have stayed 11 v 11. Unfortunately he was not prepared to do that.
“These things change games and then we conceded the first goal, it was a straight ball down the middle that squirmed under Richard’s foot, so they took advantage and equalised. We had to remain positive even when we went down to 1-2, and we worked hard all over the pitch when down to nine men. The qualities we showed augurs well for the future, the lads showed some real character.”
The Blues were reduced in numbers again when Richard Dunne was shown a straight red card after tangling with Darren Bent with seven minutes left, and with the City skipper last man referee Mike Dean applied the letter of the law. The length of the City skipper’s suspension is still unclear, and Hughes is hoping for just a one game ban.
“Whether or not it’s violent conduct, it’s a professional foul so it’s probably only one game – we’d like to think so. There was a coming together, when you are centre half and last man you may well get sent off. I just felt it was a coming together of bodies and legs, once again the referee could very easily have given the players the benefit of the doubt and allowed play to continue, but once again he was not prepared to do that.”